Economics of Voting
Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM
- Chair: Steven Sprick Schuster, Colgate University
Stimulating the Vote: ARRA Road Spending and Vote Share
AbstractThis paper estimates the impact of public good spending on voting behavior in the United States, using a quasi-experimental design and the distribution of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)road improvement projects across the state of New Jersey. I find an approximate 1.5 percentage point increase in the presidential vote share for the Democratic Party - largely responsible for ARRA's passage and widely perceived to be the more "tax-and-spend" friendly party - in areas close to highway and bridge improvement expenditures. I find no evidence of an effect on turnout. Results are consistent with two alternative mechanisms: one, a salience mechanism whereby spending and associated "funded-by" signage affect voter underlying political preferences; the other, a possible political multiplier effect through which stimulus spending improves local economic outcomes, making voters more willing to support incumbents. I present evidence at odds with the later explanation.
When Collective Ignorance Is Bliss: Theory and Experiment on Voting for Learning
AbstractWhen do groups and societies choose to be uninformed? We study a committee that needs to vote on a reform which will give every member a private state-dependent payoff. The committee can vote to learn the state at no cost. We show that the committee votes not to learn the state whenever independent voters are more fractionalised than partisans. We also run a simple laboratory experiment that confirms this result. This implies that divided societies tend to seek less information, to make decisions in haste, and to show less support for institutions that make the public more informed.
Restrictive Voting Laws, Voter Turnout, and Partisan Vote Composition: Evidence From Ohio
AbstractWe estimate effects of expansion and contraction in early voting availability by using two homogenization laws from the State of Ohio, one in 2012 and the other in 2014, which forced some counties to dramatically expand and others to dramatically contract early voting. Using individual voter registration data, we look at the impact of changes in early voting by comparing individuals who live within the same 1 square mile block but in different counties. We find substantial positive impacts of early voting on turnout equal to 0.19 percentage points of additional turnout per additional early voting day. We find little effect on those below 25 and those over 60 suggesting that work and child-care are important determinants of turnout. Effects are larger on those who have voted in Democratic primaries than those who have voted in Republican primaries. The effect on Independents is small in midterm elections but approximately 0.5 percent per day of early voting in presidential elections. We use our estimates to simulate impacts on national elections and find that a federal mandate on early voting to the level of Minnesota would have altered the outcomes of the 2016 presidential election and majority control of the United States Senate. Our results suggest that early voting increases turnout, tilts the electorate towards the Democratic Party, and reduces the polarization of the electorate.
- D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making